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England and the World Cup: How it affected cash demand

One of the defining considerations for travel money retailers when planning their operations is what events are occurring across the world. The 2018 Russian World Cup is a key example of an event which had major implications on cash demand.

Demand for rubles 

The English support during the 2018 Russian World Cup was somewhat unusual. Fear surrounding Russian hooliganism and low expectations for the English national side resulted in a lower than expected number making the initial trip. Just 31,000 England fans purchased tickets prior to the event, compared with 94,000 that bought tickets at the same stage for Brazil. Nonetheless, rubles sales rose by 92% for the period between 1 May and 15 July, compared to the same period in 2017.

There were also significant increases in ruble sales throughout 2018 compared to the year prior. This is not unusual. Both Brazil and South Africa (the two previous World Cup hosts) also saw increased tourism running up to their respective World Cups. Furthermore, it is probable that the ruble will continue to see increased demand for the next few years. 

The demand for other currencies

The support for England at home also had a knock-on effect on the demand for other foreign destinations. CMS Analytics observed a decline in euro demand during peak summertime, despite demand otherwise rising consistently throughout the year. This is partly due to people choosing to stay home to watch the World Cup, rather than travel abroad. As part of a study by The Independent, Jamie Rollo, a leisure analyst for Morgan Stanley, surveyed several UK tour operators at the beginning of July 2018, observing “overseas holiday bookings have weakened in the last few weeks… [due] to a combination of the weather, following the longest heatwave since 1976 and June the driest month on record, and the World Cup.”

As stated by Rollo, the unprecedented warm British weather is another factor that impacted demand for holidays abroad. According to studies by academics, unfavourable weather conditions either in the year of travel, or year prior, act as a push for tourists to travel to warmer destinations, and the opposite holds. Overall, the decline in euro demand can be considered a combination of the British heatwave and the desire to watch the World Cup domestically.


It is evident that the World Cup had a long-term impact on currency demand for the host nation as well as short-term implications for alternate currency demand and cash demand at home. Travel money retailers should not neglect rubles now the World Cup has finished and use these lessons to plan for future major events effectively.

Calum Robinson

Economist, CMS Analytics

Calum Robinson is responsible for identifying and delivering macro and micro economic efficiencies to CMS Analytics’ clients. Calum specialises in the field of pricing analytics and drives CMS Analytics’ research and development in this area.